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Thu, Dec 15, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Qantas chooses Boeing over Airbus to renew its fleet


Australian flag carrier Qantas announced yesterday that it has placed firm orders for 65 new Boeing 787 passenger jets in a multibillion dollar deal to renew its fleet.

Qantas Airways Ltd chief executive Geoff Dixon said the company also has secured rights to buy another 50 of the so-called Dreamliners to cope with future growth.

"This is a very, very big commitment by Qantas to growth," Dixon told reporters.

He said the list price of the 65 planes was about A$13 billion (US$9.8 billion), but added Qantas had negotiated "an extremely competitive contract" with Boeing.

However, Boeing's Web site has the 787 list price as US$125 million to US$135 million, meaning an order for 65 planes would be worth US$8.125 billion to US$8.775 billion.

Qantas will start taking delivery of the 787s from 2008, the company said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

The announcement was a blow to Europe's Airbus, which also had been lobbying Qantas to buy its planes.

The plane orders announced yesterday come on top of a multibillion dollar deal to buy 12 new Airbus A380 superjumbo planes -- the world's largest passenger jet. Qantas will begin taking delivery of the A380s early in 2007.

The announcement signals that Qantas will not begin flying nonstop between Sydney and destinations like London.

The company had talked to both Boeing and Airbus about buying planes capable of making the flight without a refueling stop.

Qantas said that it had sought tenders from Airbus and Boeing for ultra-long range variants of the Airbus A340 and Boeing 777 as part of its current fleet renewal plan.

"However, neither the B777 nor the A340 provide an economical solution to our desire to have some of our services overfly midpoint hubs," Dixon said.

"We will continue to talk to Airbus and Boeing on further developing the options for longer-range aircraft," he said.

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